By Nan Johnson PhD

ISBN-10: 0585464545

ISBN-13: 9780585464541

ISBN-10: 0809324261

ISBN-13: 9780809324262

Nan Johnson demonstrates that once the Civil warfare, nonacademic or “parlor” traditions of rhetorical functionality helped to maintain the icon of the white center classification lady as queen of her family sphere via selling a code of rhetorical habit for girls that required the functionality of traditional femininity. via a lucid exam of the bounds of that gendered rhetorical space—and the controversy approximately who may still occupy that space—Johnson explores the codes governing and hard the yank woman’s right rhetorical sphere within the postbellum years.


While males have been studying to evangelise, perform legislations, and set political regulations, ladies have been examining elocution manuals, letter-writing handbooks, and different behavior literature. those texts strengthened the conservative message that women’s phrases mattered, yet mattered as a rule in the house. Postbellum pedagogical fabrics have been designed to teach americans in rhetorical talents, yet additionally they over and over directed the yank girl to the family sphere as her right rhetorical area. even if those fabrics looked as if it would urge the white heart type girls to develop into powerful audio system and writers, conference dictated woman’s position was once on the hearthside the place her rhetorical abilities have been for use in counseling and educating as a mom and wife.


Aided by means of twenty-one illustrations, Johnson has meticulously compiled fabrics from old texts now not available to most people and, in so doing, has illuminated this intersection of rhetoric and feminism within the 19th century. The rhetorical pedagogies designed for a postbellum well known viewers symbolize the cultural websites the place a rethinking of women’s roles turns into open controversy approximately the way to price their phrases. Johnson argues this period of uneasiness approximately moving gender roles and the icon of the “quiet lady” needs to be regarded as proof of the necessity for a extra whole revaluing of women’s area in old discourse. 

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Additional resources for Gender and Rhetorical Space in American Life, 1866-1910 (Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms)

Example text

The parlor-rhetoric movement achieved the significant goal of promoting rhetorical literacy to a greater number of Americans than otherwise would have obtained it. However, the obvious good achieved by the successful promotion of rhetorical training to the general public in the postbellum period and the late decades of the century is complicated by a tension in parlor pedagogies between egalitarian education and ideological conservatism that plays a dominant role generally in nineteenth-century discourses about gender and rhetorical performance.

By implying that the “zeal” needed to study and apply elocution is best found in the businessman or statesman, Fenno takes for granted that it is men and not women who are rhetorical agents in the public and professional spheres even while asserting at the same time that elocution is an art that improves the lives of men and women alike. In the unacknowledged tension of Fenno’s position, we see the extent to which a gendered construction of rhetorical space predisposes the cultural mindset that Fenno inhabits as he subtly erases the rhetorical performance of  PARLOR RHETORIC AND THE PERFORMANCE OF GENDER women from public rhetorical forums in which the affairs of “mankind” are brokered.

The tension in the land over the woman question was still palpable and very much on the public’s mind. In an era in which the American public sought the redrawing of a conservative social landscape, the persistent efforts of determined women to challenge traditional boundaries curtailing their lives were met with similarly determined efforts to reinscribe those boundaries and keep women within them. Nowhere is this conflicted energy more clear than in influential discourses about the principles of rhetorical performance: how to speak, to whom to speak, and what to speak about.

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Gender and Rhetorical Space in American Life, 1866-1910 (Studies in Rhetorics and Feminisms) by Nan Johnson PhD

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